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Full text of "A sermon preached at Christ Church, St. Giles : on the occasion of the annual meeting of the Tithe Redemption Trust, June 27, 1854"

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JUNE 27, 1854, 


^ublisljfb at t^£ rcqiust of tht Ulrding. 





Prinlrd Iiy W. J. Goi.hour:;, G, Prinees Street, Txicestcr Square. 



1 COEINTHIANS vi. 19. 

•' Ye are not your own ; for ye are bought with a price." 

The mystery of the KedemiDtion enters into every 
part of our moral nature. Every spiritual power, 
and every practical duty, has its origin in this deep 
fountain of the divine love. To judge rightly of any 
privilege, or any obligation, of our Christian character, 
we must take our stand upon the eternal purpose 
of God, by which the Lamb was foreordained to die 
before the foundation of the world. (1 Peter i. 19) 
We are redeemed, says St. Peter, not with cor- 
ruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the 
precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without 
blemish and without spot, who verily was fore- 
ordained before the foundation of the world. And 
in Piev. xiii. 8, we read, that there ai"c names 
that have been written in the book of Life of the 
Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 


We leani, then, that there never was a time 
when man could call anything his own, sin only 
excepted. Even Adam, in the holiness of his 
first natm-e, could not boast of those gifts which 
he had merely received. Even then, before his fall, 
he had been already redeemed by the sacrifice 
ordained throughout all eternity, of that Lamb who, 
by the eternal spirit, off'ered himself, without spot, 
to God. The words of the text, then, have always 
been ti'ue of all men, at all times : 

" Ye ai'e not your own ; for ye are bought with a 

Upon this great central mystery of the Redemp- 
tion, hang all the practical duties of mankind. This 
is the foundation of the Sabbath first, and afterwards 
of the Lord's day ; that one-seventh of our time 
should be given up to the service of God, as an 
acknowledgment, that we are not our own, but that 
w'e are his servants. In remembrance of this 
doctrine, Noah offered up the seventh pai't of the 
clean beasts and fowls, in sacrifice to God ; and for 
the same reason, Abraham gave tithes of all to 
Melchizedec, the priest of the Most High God ; and 
the sons of Levi, who received the office of the 
priesthood, were commanded to take tithes of the 
people, according to the law^ It was not merely 
human law, which estabhshed the same duty in our 
own country, but the clear application of the one 
great doctrine of Redemption ; that all mankind are 
buugiit witli a i)ncc, and that they are not their own. 

Persons as well as property, are included in this 
general obligation. For Redemption is altogether 
personal. When Jesus Christ died, it was not so 
much that he gave something that was his own, 
as that he gave Himself. And the effect of his 
sacrifice is not so much to save anything belonging 
to man, as to save man himself. This personal 
obhgation was also typified in the law of Moses 
(in Exodus xiii. 15); by which all the first-born of 
children were requii'ed to be redeemed, in remem- 
brance of the day when God brought Israel out of 
the house of bondage. Christian liberty is the 
exchanging the slavery of Satan for the service of 
Chiist, as it is well explained hi 1 Corinthians vii. 22: 
" He that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is 
the Lord's free man ; likewise, also, he that is called, 
being free, is Christ's servant. Ye are bought with 
a price." 

If, then, this be a certain truth, that neither our 
persons nor our property are our own, how can we 
account for the constant misapplication, which we 
hear on every side, of that text, rightly used in 
Scripture, by the only Being who can use it with 
truth : " Is it not lawful for me to do what I will 
with mine own?" — " There's the mistake," said John 
Wesley, "it is not your own." Most of the present 
evils of the world may be traced to this fatal 
mistake — the forgetfulness of the great practical 
duty flowhig out of the doctrine of Redemption, 
that we are not our own, Ijut that we are bought 
witli a price. 


"We have seen that this is an eternal doctrine ; 
and this thought saves a world of argument. If 
you speak to men now-a-days of Tithe, they tell 
you, that the Jewish law was abrogated at the 
coming of Jesus Christ. The obligation to keep the 
Lord's day holy, is supposed to rest only upon 
the Jewish Decalogue. The community of goods in 
the Apostolic Church, it is argued, however suitable 
to that age, was never intended to be made a per- 
manent institution. And upon such gi'ounds as 
these, men claim the right of using their time, 
their abihties and their property, as they please. 
The one answer to all these sophisms is in the 
assertion of the truth : that Redemption is an eternal 
purpose of God ; that it took effect upon man from 
the first hour of the fall, and will continue to affect 
him even to the end of the world. He is bought 
with a price ; and therefore time, money, talents — 
all ai^e God's. 

This simple rule admits of no exception ; age, sex, 
time, place, make no difference. It is as certain 
now, and as binding in its obligation, as it was in 
the days of Melchezidec. It is the great foundation 
of the law of tithe, the ground-work of every act of 
Christian charity ; as certainly, as if when men 
went into Eg}'pt in former days, and there found 
the people still pa\dng the fifth-pai't to the king, 
they traced it to the time when the Eg}^tians 
became Phai'aoh's servants, and sold their cattle and 
their land, and lastly their own persons, for bread ; 
and acknowledged that it was thus that the law 


became established over the land of Egypt, that 
Phai'aoh should have fifth part; so still more 
evidently must it be seen, that every divine lavi^ 
and human obligation sums up into the general 
fact, that there was a time when God bought us all 
with the price of the body and blood of his Blessed 
Son; and that, therefore, we are not free to 
appropriate to our own use any more than that 
portion, whether of time or of money, which God, 
who is entitled to claim the whole, gives back again 
to us, to be at our own disposal. 

How can the amount of what God reserves to Him- 
self be ascertained? Is it a fifth, as in Egypt; or a 
tenth, as in Judea; or a seventh, as it is in the case of 
time ? That question will be asked only by those who 
think more of the letter than of the principle of the law. 
Those who forget the ground of the claim, will murmur 
even at the smallest assessment. Those, on the con- 
trary, who know the root of the matter, will never be 
contented with the bare letter of the law. Even the 
Jew, Zaccheus, gave a half of his goods, when the 
law required only a tenth. The same spirit of love 
which broke off from the Christian converts the 
yoke of the law, made Bai'nabas the son of consola- 
tion, and many others, like him, sell their land, 
and bring the money, and lay it at the Apostles' 
feet. The spuit of Christian charity would have 
said of tithe in those days, what Christ said of the 
one leper. 'Were there not ten parts; but where 
arc the nine ? Is this all that is brought back, to 


give glory to God ? ' What ! offer only a tenth to 
Him who so loved the world that he gave his only 
begotten Son — and then, with Him, also, freely 
gives us all things — to think of gi^'ing Him a part 
instead of the whole, seems to renew again the sin 
of Ananias and Sapphira. 

What a mistake, then, it is, to think that Christi- 
anity repeals the Jewish law, and justifies the 
withholding from God the things that ai'e God's. 
Rather say that Moses, because of the hai'dness of 
the hearts of the people of Israel, demanded of them 
no more than a tenth ; but from the beginning it 
was not so. From the time of the promulgation of 
the promise that the seed of the woman should 
bruise the serpent's head, the same power which 
broke off the yoke of Satan, laid upon us His own — 
ftn easy yoke, and a light burden — but easy in the 
opposite way to that which men suppose : not light 
and easy by asking of us half our hearts, or half our 
property, and leaving the other half still to tempt 
us to try to serve Mammon rather than God — but 
a yoke, made light and easy by the entire renun- 
ciation of everything worldly : a yoke hke that 
proffered to the young man in the Gospel, whom 
Christ invited to sell all tliat he had, and give to 
the poor, and then to take up his cross, and follow 
Him. The great advantage of a principle is, that 
it adapts itself to all cases, even where the letter 
of the law is inapplicable. Now we have seen 
the principle ol" tlic law ol' tithe to be derived from 


the great saving Doctrine of Redemption. There 
may be many alterations of tlie letter of the law, and 
of the amount requhed, and of the mode of collection; 
but the true Christian, resting upon his own un- 
changeable Priesthood, after the order of Melchezidec, 
is a law unto himself. He will show the work of 
the law written upon his heart; he will pay his tithe; 
his seventh, his fifth, his half, or his all, to the 
New High Priest, which ariseth after the similitude 
of Melchezidec, who is made, not after the law of a 
carnal commandment, but after the power of an 
endless life. 

All questions of conscience may be solved by this 
rule. If one man finds himself possessed by inherit- 
ance of property once dedicated to the service of 
Almighty God, what ought he to do ? The law of 
the land protects him in the possession. His 
fathers and forefathers were conscientious men, and 
they saw no harm in retaining it. It is true that it 
bears still the marks of dedication in its ruined chapel, 
now turned into a barn ; its ancient font used as a 
trough for horses ; its burial-ground furrowed by the 
plough ; it is true, that in an age when all tithe is 
grudged, lie may make it tenfold more hateful by 
rigid exaction, and by applying it to worldly uses : 
but all this is strictly legal ; it has been so for three 
hundred years : and why should a second reformation 
now be needed, to undo what the first reformation 
did, so much to his advantage ? I ask for no 
alteration of ihc law— 1 leave that to Ctcsar — far 


less would I sanction any agrai'ian spoliation, or 
any dreams of socialism ; but I would awake that 
conscience which may slumber, but can never die : 
that inward judge of right and wrong, which tells us 
more plainly than the tongue of man can speak, 
that what was once God's is God's for ever. What 
does this Society mean, which calls itself the Tithe 
Redemption Trust ? Is there a Tithe-owner in 
England that will take money for what never did 
and never can belong to him ? What the law of 
man has given, conscience will constrain him to 
give back. But how, shall I threaten him with the 
teiTors of future judgment ? That is in the Lord's 
hand. Shall I tell him of the curse of sacrilege; 
of great old houses dwindling down till they become 
extinct ; of blighted hopes, and ruined fortunes ; 
and lay all this to the charge of the usurpation of 
the pati'imony of God ? W^ho art thou that judgest 
another ? There were sinners upon whom the Tower 
of Siloam fell ; and there were other sinners, whose 
blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices ; and there 
are other sinners, yea, our own selves, who, unless 
we repent, shall all likewise perish. 

What is it that we are claiming back, and urging 
our brethren so vehemently to restore ? It is 
the tithe which some pious Christian dedicated 
(ages back) to the service of Christ. Was it law, 
or was it conscience? Conscience gave, and law 
protected the gift. The law may have changed, 
and now protects the wrong person in the posses- 


sion of the gift, but conscience remains unchanged. 
Conscience was not a privilege of the men of 
olden time ; it is our own birthright — our own 
bosom's lord. If I would touch the conscience 
of another, I must first exercise my own. If I 
would see the cause of Tithe Redemption prosper, 
I must pay my own redemption tithe. We shall 
not .touch men's consciences by going out at once 
into the field to search for some tenth sheaf of 
corn, or some tenth lamb, which is exacted for 
the use of some lay impropriator; but by carefully 
scrutinizing all our items of expenditure, most of 
them the growth of ages later than the establish- 
ment of tithe ; every exotic fruit, exquisite fish, 
and pampered fowl ; every costly flower and precious 
jewel, and goodly apparel ; every servant and horse 
and carriage ; every piece of plate and gorgeous 
furniture; every treasure of painting or of sculpture, 
even every rare book ; and, above all, by looking 
closely into those sources of revenue which are 
of modern years, the rents of palaces standing 
where scarcely a cow fed a few years ago ; money 
locked in the funds, and yielding annually its un- 
tithed interest; of all and every one of these items 
of expenditure, or of these sources of income, it 
is our bounden duty to ask the question — has it 
paid tribute to whom tribute is due? Has it paid 
its Redemption Tithe in thankful acknowledgment 
of the mercy of that Saviour wln) bought us with 
the price of his own body nud l)lood ? I am a 


stranger here, and I speak tlierefore with less 
confidence ; hut iiiy impression is, that the tithe 
of which I now speak has not been paid. The 
proof seems to be this, that misery, and want and 
spiritiud destitution has gone on increasing, wliile 
the nation was every yeai' advancing in wealth and 
luxury. I shall not quote your own frightful 
reports of the state of the English poor, or repeat 
the well-known details of the want of churches or 
of schools. It is not necessary to recur to the 
terrors of that 10th of April, when it was a 
bold man who could venture to predict in the 
morning in whose hands his property would be 
at night. You know these things better than I 
do ; and you are well aware, that but a little more 
provoking of the divine long-suffering might have 
changed, as it did in other countries, the ownership 
of everything that we call our own; and God, 
defrauded of his tithe, might have resumed the 
trust in which we had been found unfaithful. 

It was socialism that you then feai'ed. And what 
is the cure for socialism ? Sm'ely it is the return 
to the true spirit of the apostolic age, of which 
socialism is a godless counterfeit. It is to take 
care that no child, no widow, no orphan, no 
emigrant, no heathen shall be neglected in the daily 
distribution of all things needful, both for soul and 
body. What this may cost, after so many years of 
neglect, it is as impossible to tell, as it is to 
calculate what portion of our income may be 


required for the purposes of tlie righteous war in 
which we are now engaged. All that we can call 
our cwn, is what neither our God nor our countiy 
demands. Yea, let Him take all, who gave all ; not 
only all these earthly things, but his own Son, the 
brightness of His own gloiy, and the express image 
of His person. 

I obseiTe, in the Report of this Society, that but 
little has been done for the Redemption of Tithes 
during the past year. But much may have been 
done in establishing the principle which I have 
endeavoured to illustrate, of giving a definite portion 
of our income, and of cutting off all superfluous 
expenditure. My own Newzealanders have not been 
backward. In one of our native villages, 120 
adult men signed an agreement last year to give a 
tithe of their produce to the maintenance of a 
minister. Many laymen, within my own ac- 
quaintance, have long acted upon this rule, some 
giving a tenth, and some even a fifth. I would 
commend this to your committee as a fruitful branch 
of your work, and one which, more than any other, 
will promote that restoration of the property of the 
Chm'ch which we all desire. I have called it, T 
believe, by its true name, a name not easily forgotten, 
Redemption Tithe, a thank offering to Almighty 
God, for our creation, preservation, and all the 
blessings of this life : but above all, for His in- 
estimable love, in the redemption of the world, by 
our Lord Jesus Christ 

PrintpJ by W. J. GoLnouRN, C, Princes Stroet, Leicester Square. 




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